Biological Sciences (Genetics and Genomics)

BSc (Hons)

UCAS code: C400

Start dates: September 2024 / September 2025

Full time: 3 years, 4 years sandwich

Part time: 6 years

Location: Headington, Headington (Marston Road site)

Department(s): Department of Biological and Medical Sciences

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Overview

Do you want to help stop diseases before they show up? Do you want to be at the cutting-edge of genetics and genomics research? On our BSc Biological Sciences (Genetics and Genomics) degree, you’ll get to experience how genomics impacts all areas of bioscience. Whether it’s healthcare, endangered species, or cancer research, we’ll help enhance your understanding and analytical skills.

Developments in big data are ushering in rapid advances in DNA sequencing. Our labs are equipped with modern equipment where you’ll sharpen your computational analysis and molecular and cell biology laboratory skills. Our staff are active in research, so you’ll stay up to date with the latest developments in the field.

Our teaching staff are committed to your success and want you to thrive. We’ve created a nurturing environment and our small group sizes are core to this. 

As a graduate, your skills and experience will mean you can make a lasting impact on the health of society. 

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Why Oxford Brookes University?

  • Flexible options

    Tailor the course to suit your interests. You can choose from a broad range of modules, starting with a foundation year if you need it, or taking a year in industry.

  • Student support

    We pride ourselves on the connection our staff have with our students. This will support your academic and personal development.

  • Employment success

    We offer modules to help you identify interesting career paths and to develop your professional skills. These are supported with the opportunity to gain work experience through a placement year, a work experience module and your research project.

  • Strong industry links

    We enjoy strong links with organisations like biotech companies and research centres. We’re regularly updated on important industry developments.

  • International exchanges

    Are you ready to expand your horizons? Do you want to explore a different culture? You may be able to spend a year studying and living in a different country.

  • Free language courses

    Free language courses are available to full-time undergraduate and postgraduate students on many of our courses, and can be taken as a credit on some courses.

  • Study abroad

    You may be able to go on a European or international study exchange while you are at Brookes. Most exchanges take place in the second year. Although we will help as much as we can with your plans, ultimately you are responsible for organising and funding this study abroad.

Course details

Course structure

Your first year will ground you in important aspects of the biosciences. You’ll focus on applying fundamental biology to real life issues. You’ll explore the classification of the living world, evolution, cell function, chemical principles. Key themes include cellular organelles and their functions, and chemical bonds and structures. You’ll be at the cutting-edge of innovative thinking.

You’ll learn how to analyse genomes and extract DNA in your second year. You’ll examine genetics and data carpentry. Optional modules include microbiology and animal development.

The optional industrial placement can help you gain first-hand experience within a professional environment. Alternatively, you can gain work experience as part of a final year module without the need to extend your degree.

In your final year, you’ll be able to specialise in your areas of interest. Your research project will help you stand out when applying for jobs. This can be done in conjunction with companies from our Bioinnovation hub or within our Bioimaging or Functional Genetic and Genomic Centres.

Student studying in a lab

Learning and teaching

Throughout the course we focus on applying fundamental biology to real life issues. You will apply your knowledge in practical settings, either in the lab or out in the field. 

You have the opportunity to gain a wide range of skills, including:

  • molecular techniques (for example, for the study of DNA, RNA and proteins)
  • bioinformatics
  • advanced light and electron microscopy
  • field-based methods for species and landscape assessment
  • cutting edge methodologies for the study of evolution and developmental biology.

Our teaching methods include: 

  • lectures
  • practicals
  • tutorials
  • seminars
  • surgeries.

Assessment

Our assessment methods include:

  • essays
  • reviews
  • examinations
  • laboratory or field notebooks
  • scientific reports
  • posters
  • oral presentations.

You’ll reflect on your progress with assignment feedback together with your diaries. 

Assessment is designed to shape and develop learning, not simply measure it. 

Study modules

Year 1

Compulsory modules

  • Cell Biology and Genetics

    Cell biology is the study of how cells work and how they differentiate to form multicellular organisms. 

    This module is your introduction to cell function - you will study the different types of molecules within cells and build your knowledge about cellular organelles and their functions. You’ll explore the increasing levels of complexity and the diversity of cell types that have arisen through evolution.  

    On this module you’ll also look at genetics. What are genes and how do they work to bring about the traits that we observe in organisms? We will examine cell division in detail and look at how DNA is transcribed into RNA which translates into proteins that do most of the work in the cell.
     

  • Communicating Science

    For impact, scientific research findings need to be communicated to reach the relevant audience in a timely manner. The relevant audience can be

    • researchers
    • policy makers
    • public. 

    Science can be communicated by written reports to oral presentations. 

    On this module you’ll have Personal and Academic Support Scheme tutorials over your first year. You’ll receive the support and guidance to adjust to the academic demands of university. Also you will develop key skills like:

    • reading
    • critical thinking
    • literature searching
    • reporting 
    • presentation in various formats  
    • presenting to varied audiences.
       
  • Quantitative Skills for Life Science

    On this module you’ll be introduced to, build upon and practice the key quantitative skills for science. 

    Your key module areas will include:

    • hypothesis testing
    • designing scientific investigations
    • applying mathematical topics 
    • principles and application of statistical methods
    • using statistical software 
    • reporting in scientific research. 

    The timing of this module will help you to practise these skills incrementally on your other first year modules.
     

  • Biodiversity

    On this module you will explore the diversity of life. Looking at classification and the theory of evolution, that links all biology and the interactions between organisms and their environment. Then you’ll examine major structures and patterns in 

    • plants
    • animals 
    • fungi.

    Looking at how they vary within each kingdom and the interrelationships of some of the phyla. You will learn about how structure is related to function, within the ecological context and you will also look at the importance of each group. 

    By the end of this module you will have a deep knowledge of interactions between plants and animals; the interactions that are both antagonistic and mutualistic, and the wider environment. You’ll also develop your understanding of the functioning of ecosystems and the biosphere.

  • Intro to Biochemistry A

    This module is an introduction to the chemical principles that underpin cellular functions. You’ll study the chemical concepts that range from stoichiometry and reactions, chemical bonds and structures through to chemical equilibrium and chemical change, taking in the organic chemistry of cell macromolecules:

    • DNA
    • Proteins
    • Carbohydrates
    • Lipids

    along the way. This will help you build crucial knowledge and skills for the field of biological sciences.
     

  • Intro to Biochemistry B

    Build your knowledge of chemical concepts. You’ll study energetics and cellular metabolism to biochemical change (enzyme kinetics and mechanisms) and you’ll consider cellular macromolecules, broadly looking at 

    • bioenergetics
    • cellular metabolism
    • enzyme kinetics
    • protein structure and function. 

    To further develop and progress your knowledge and skills in Biochemistry and what you also learnt on the module Introduction to Biochemistry A.
     

Year 2

Compulsory modules

  • Molecular Biology

    In this module, you’ll be introduced to cell biology at a molecular level. Your study will incorporate exploration of the fascinating science behind combined genetic and molecular approaches leading to fundamental biological concepts and cellular processes. Through a combination of practical work and theory-based activity, you’ll be trained in laboratory techniques and introduced to experimental evidence central to your understanding of genetic engineering, and modern molecular tools.

    You’ll pay particular focus to the history of evolution (phylogeny), the study of relationships between living organisms and their physical environment (ecology), and how genetic variation is passed down to successive generations (evolution), all of which shall complement the BIOL5015 Genetics.

  • Genetics

    Explore how genetics has revolutionised our understanding of genetic inheritance on many levels, from individuals to population and evolutionary connections from our ancestors to descendants. In this fascinating module, you’ll gain an insight into how certain genes are transferred from parents to offspring, in addition to exploring quantitative, population, ecological and evolutionary genetics. You’ll practice your abilities to analyse and interpret genetic data, enabling you to enhance your general numeracy and research competence skills, increasing your employability into science institutions as a result. 

  • Career Development

    In this module, you’ll learn essential training in professional career management skills, designed to assist you in actively planning and preparing for your future career. You’ll explore a career development cycle, starting with discovering your potential, considering opportunities within job roles, postgraduate study or training.

    On completion of this module you’ll feel confident about competing in the graduate job market, whether you are applying for work placements or graduate jobs. You can expect to get hands-on with practical involvement from the university’s Career Consultants and employers.

    After completion of this module you should have a clearer idea of where your career values lie, and a greater understanding of how you may realise your career aspirations.
     

  • Interrogating Genomes

    You’ll learn to turn biological data into meaningful information in this module. Interpretation of data in the biological science world is more important than ever, and bioinformatics is an increasingly integral part of modern biological research. As part of your study, you’ll be introduced to computational thinking in biological sciences, enabling you to analyse, interpret, visualise and present data sets.

    You’ll use your programming skills to tailor bespoke solutions to biological problems, make new discoveries, develop capacity for considering data-driven results, and reveal new insights from your findings. You’ll be introduced to the two most important molecules in cell biology, RNA and DNA, from a bioinformatics perspective.

    On completion of this module, you’ll be well placed to forge a career with excellent employment prospects within life sciences, biotechnology, or the pharmaceutical industry. 

  • Data Carpentry

    In this module, you’ll learn how to manage ‘big data’ and machine learning techniques for drawing meaningful Biological Science conclusions. You’ll get interactive and hands-on with the fundamentals of programming and analysis across biological, statistical and computer science elements.

    In addition, you’ll get up to speed on managing and communicating data from diverse biological disciplines using the R language for statistical computing. On completion of this module you’ll gain highly transferable skills from across a range of disciplines, making you an asset for both research and employment

Optional modules

Animal Developmental Biology

The growth of an animal from a single embryonic egg is a fascinating notion that you shall explore in this module. Through a mixture of practice and theory, you’ll explore developmental themes based on animal development, including the different stages of embryonic growth, tissue specification, biological mechanisms, and gene regulation.

You’ll be encouraged to investigate deeper into biological development themes to draw fascinating insights about this subject. On completion of this module you will have gained a broad overview of the development process and regulation in animals.

This module will present students with an in-depth introduction to the principles of developmental biology, and provide a broad overview of development processes and their regulation in animals.

Cell Biology

You'll unravel key research ideas that are helping today’s biologists solve some of the biology world’s biggest questions. The fundamental concept of cell biology is the understanding of how organisms develop and how they interact and respond to their environment.

You’ll investigate molecular cell structures from animals, plants and fungi through a combination of practical experimental laboratory techniques and theoretical research. You'll be introduced to fascinating established methods such as fluorescent microscopy of living cells. You’ll explore recent advances in cell biology such as novel treatments and therapies for diseases, cell processes such as cell division, and the impact of the environmental on biological systems. You’ll also take a closer look at the composition of a cell – its’ components and intrinsic functions. By the end of this module, you will have an excellent grasp of cell biology, which will allow you to progress to more advanced and specialised topics. 
 

Microbiology

This fascinating applied science module will introduce you to the study of bacteria, yeasts, viruses and protozoa, from a protein and molecular gene level. You’ll be exploring the structures, metabolism, regulatory signals, replication and growth exhibited by microorganisms.

The importance of microbiology spans medicine and communities, as we attempt to control microbials in hospitals, yet also seek to employ microbes to benefit us as human beings through live cultures and biotechnological advances.

Through this module you will explore the interaction and impact of microbes on humans along with an introduction to the challenges facing medical interventions against pathogenic microbes in different parts of the world. Your study will involve practical aseptic laboratory techniques designed to train you in working safely with microbiological organisms and will give you the opportunity to plan and execute simple experimental procedures. 

Biochemistry of Cell Function

In this module you shall take several approaches to exploring mammalian tissue cells, including the chemical make-up and nature of compounds that are involved in cellular processes. You will implement biochemical knowledge to research examples of diseases caused by malfunction of these processes and identify biochemical relationships between events at cellular level as well as at systemic level.

You’ll put your skills into action with the most relevant biomedical diagnostic techniques. By the end of this module you shall have a clearer understanding of how the biochemical aspects of cell function determine the outcome of cell processes. 

Animal Behaviour

In this module you’ll delve into the fascinating science behind animal behaviour. Scientists have long studied the nuances of animal behaviour, investigating the underlying behavioural traits and their variation in animals, which is what you’ll be discovering too in this insightful module.

You can expect to study a wide range of elements including physiological, morphological and evolutionary mechanisms. You’ll consider the importance of observation and experimentation on our understanding of behaviour, and adaptive behaviour of animals in the wild. You’ll turn your attention to the influences of resource type and quality on animal behaviour, the evolution of behavioural traits and the acquisition of new behaviours.

Throughout your study you’ll have access to supportive literature and key primary research papers, which shall support your case studies on the importance of animal behaviour in conservation. 
 

Year 3

Compulsory modules

  • Research Project

    This is the culmination of your degree, and your chance to delve into the world of research to pioneer your own breakthrough. As part of this module you’ll have the opportunity to create an individual piece of research related to your degree subject, working alongside a supervisor from the Department of Biological Sciences at Oxford Brookes University. You’ll be encouraged to explore opportunities to develop your project outside of the University, under the guidance of your tutor. You’ll participate in formal sessions that are designed to help you consider possible project choices and provide you with the necessary knowledge to search for outside project opportunities. 

  • Professional Skills and Techniques

    You’ll focus on the development of your professional skills and personalise your career ambitions. You’ll select your study elements, which will allow you flexibility and draw upon your research expertise and links with external partners. Some of the wide range of topics you’ll cover will be relevant to your degree, such as advanced microscopy, protein biochemistry, species identification, geographic information systems, entrepreneurship or science communication. You’ll gain hands-on experience on how to competently perform techniques, and you’ll hear from professionals working in the sector, who will provide an insight into their career. You will learn how you can make a difference in the world and existing job market with the new knowledge and skills you’ll gain. Self-reflection is encouraged on this module, and you’ll get the chance to demonstrate your learning through a written report, talk, poster, leaflet, protocol, or oral viva.

     

  • Advanced Genetics and Genomics

    You'll learn about major theoretical and technological advances in Genetics and Genomics, and their significance in addressing challenges in biological and medical research. You’ll focus on the variation of population history, selection inference, and analysing variation in complex traits. You’ll also explore the use of comparative genomics and the evolutionary relatedness among groups of organisms (phylogenetics) to make connections between evolutionary relationships, and investigate genome evolution.

    Your learning journey will encompass microbiomes in human health and ecosystems, and the study of gene function. You’ll get hands on with key techniques such as retrieval of data from public resources, population statistics, genome-wide association studies, gene annotation, transcriptome analysis, transcription factor binding prediction and characterisation of epigenetic modifications. You’ll devise a research programme addressing a current challenge in biological and medical science.

Optional modules

Molecular Biology of Cancer

This fascinating module will introduce you to the fundamentals of cancerous cells at a molecular level. You’ll explore the nature and causes of cancer with particular emphasis on the underlying biological mechanisms. You’ll investigate the role of oncogenes, tumour suppressor genes, and cell signalling. Furthermore, you’ll explore other cellular processes such as the cell cycle, apoptosis, cell growth and division, and DNA repair in cancer development. You’ll find that a special focus around the concepts of the ‘hallmarks of cancer’ will also introduce you to the emerging field of cancer genomics as well as cover the therapeutic options for tumour patients.

Advanced Cell Biology and Bioimaging

Immerse yourself in most exciting research and developmental topics surrounding microscopic cell biology and bio-imaging analysis. In this module, you will gain an in-depth insight and appreciation of the molecular mechanisms at play in the cell biology of mammals, yeast and plants. You’ll investigate some of the techniques underpinning the latest associated research in the field, and dive into an exploration of fundamental biological processes in topics such as cell signalling and interacting proteins, the endomembrane system, and the cell cycle. Innovative advanced experimental bio-imaging has opened up new avenues to implement highly powerful experimental methods for investigation of cell biology. Light microscopy techniques will allow you to probe important biological questions, observe living cells of animals and plants, and measure intracellular processes including protein interactions in different biological situations.

Advanced Topics in Wildlife Conservation

If you’ve ever been interested in the strategies behind conserving wildlife, this module is for you. You’ll study and identify key concepts which will support your ability to formulate solutions for protecting biodiversity at the local and landscape scale. You’ll focus your learning on core conservation issues, with consideration of controversies and alternative approaches to the practical issues involved in land management for successful conservation.  You’ll build on your foundational knowledge from previous modules. As your study progresses you will gain a practical and theoretical understanding of wildlife conservation and the environmental issues that threaten species. 

Genomic Medicine

Our understanding of the genome is constantly growing. In this module, you’ll be introduced to the fundamental elements of genomics, human genetics and genetic variation. You’ll explore genetics in connection to disease and how genomic medicine can be utilised in relation to disease mechanisms. You’ll get the chance to investigate the effects of gene mutations and variations in DNA sequences (gene polymorphisms) in human health, with an opportunity to join in on an in-depth discussion on linkage. In addition, you’ll learn all about personalised medicine and the role of a key enzyme in the liver (cytochrome P450) in the metabolism of drugs and toxicity.

Evolution and Animal Development

Understanding the evolution and diversity of animals is a fundamental basis for the growth of both science research and conservation. In this module, you’ll explore the contemporary view of animal diversity and delve into the process by which animal diversity occurs through process of evolution. You’ll explore the evolutionary significance of animals and patterns of diversity at various timescales and levels of the evolutionary journey. You’ll follow the development from egg (cell) to adult in a variety of animal species and will look at comparisons between developmental programmes. You’ll investigate how altering expression patterns in a set of toolkit genes can give rise to morphological variation, both over evolutionary time and in response to environmental variation.

Science and Humanity

Science has had an impact on all aspects of our lives, and overall, you’ll learn how to set that influence in its social and historical context, in this module. You’ll address alternative views of the world, how they have been developed or replaced in the context of science, and have a clear look at the strengths and weaknesses of a scientific world view. You’ll explore ideas about the value of other life forms and consider environmental philosophy. You’ll take a refreshing perspective on modern contentious ideas and possibilities such as Genetic Modification, organic farming, fracking, stem cell research, manipulation of the human genome and designer babies. In addition, you’ll turn your focus to the political, economic, and moral context of the current environmental crisis. 

Work Experience

This module will involve a supervised work-based learning experience. You will get the opportunity to spend a minimum of 60 hours in a working environment that is relevant to your career path. You’ll gain key skills in reflective practice and professional development, and will learn how to present your insights in a written essay and in a video. By the end of this module you will have obtained useful skills to enhance your future job applications and further your career.

Independent Study in Life Sciences

You shall have the opportunity to choose a topic that is relevant to your programme. Building upon your knowledge from your previous year of study, for those on the MBiol programme, you shall get the chance to immerse yourself in the production of a detailed project plan for your Masters year project/dissertation. For all other study programmes, you’ll pick a project in agreement with your supervisor, which shall be submitted for approval by end of week 1 in the semester in which the study is to be undertaken. You’ll start planning your work six weeks before the start of the semester to give you ample time for submission. You’ll have access to Moodle where you’ll be able to view your module learning contract template and find all the information you need to successfully complete your independent study.

Year 3 (optional placement year)

Optional modules

Industrial Placement (compulsory for sandwich year students only)

The Industrial Placement module lets you gain first-hand experience of applying theoretical and practical science within a professional environment, for example within an industrial biotechnology company or a laboratory. You will gain insight into the work of a professional scientific employer and develop both practical laboratory skills and the ability to self-assess. We will suggest employers but experience tells us that successful students are usually those who are pro-active in searching out their own placements. Many placements do come with a salary, but sadly some employers do not feel they are obliged to offer a salary, and that the expenses they incur by hosting and training you are sufficient outlay for them. This issue of salary will have implications for you and for your funding status. We will give you advice on this during the application process, but you should make sure you understand your situation fully by talking with the Student Finance department.

Please note: As our courses are reviewed regularly as part of our quality assurance framework, the modules you can choose from may vary from those shown here. The structure of the course may also mean some modules are not available to you.

Careers

Graduates of our BSc Biological Sciences (Genetics and Genomes) degree make a huge difference to human health and conservation. They also have an excellent record of employment. 

With your detailed understanding of the field of genetics and genomes, you’ll be prized by employers. 

Oxford provides many exciting career opportunities. The city is surrounded by several innovative bioscience companies. It’s also home to renowned research centres such as the Nuffield and Churchill hospitals.

Popular job roles include:

  • data analyst
  • researcher
  • clinical trials coordinator
  • teacher
  • lecturer
  • lab technician
  • digital epidemiologist
  • microbiologist
  • biotechnologist. 

It’s not uncommon for students to continue studying. Our MSc Conservation Ecology and MSc Genetics and Genomics have been particularly popular. Some continue onto PhDs, including internally funded PhDs.

Our Staff

Dr Daniela Santos Nunes

"I currently lead the Phenotypic Evolution and Adaptation research group, which focuses on molecular evolution, population genetics and evolutionary developmental biology."

Read more about Daniela

Related courses

Entry requirements

Wherever possible we make our conditional offers using the UCAS Tariff. The combination of A-level grades listed here would be just one way of achieving the UCAS Tariff points for this course.

Standard offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 104

A Level: BCC

IB Points: 29

BTEC: DMM

Contextual offer

UCAS Tariff Points: 88

A Level: CCD

IB Points: 27

BTEC: MMM

International qualifications and equivalences

Tuition fees

Please see the fees note
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)
£1,500

International full time
£16,100

International sandwich (placement)
£1,500

Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)
£1,600

International full time
£16,900

International sandwich (placement)
£1,600

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

Tuition fees

2023 / 24
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)
£1,500

International full time
£16,100

International sandwich (placement)
£1,500

2024 / 25
Home (UK) full time
£9,250

Home (UK) part time
£1,155 per single module

Home (UK) sandwich (placement)
£1,600

International full time
£16,900

International sandwich (placement)
£1,600

Questions about fees?

Contact Student Finance on:

+44 (0)1865 534400

financefees@brookes.ac.uk

Please note, tuition fees for Home students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students in line with an inflationary amount determined by government. Oxford Brookes University intends to maintain its fees for new and returning Home students at the maximum permitted level.

Tuition fees for International students may increase in subsequent years both for new and continuing students. 

The following factors will be taken into account by the University when it is setting the annual fees: inflationary measures such as the retail price indices, projected increases in University costs, changes in the level of funding received from Government sources, admissions statistics and access considerations including the availability of student support. 

How and when to pay

Tuition fee instalments for the semester are due by the Monday of week 1 of each semester. Students are not liable for full fees for that semester if they leave before week 4. If the leaving date is after week 4, full fees for the semester are payable.

  • For information on payment methods please see our Make a Payment page.
  • For information about refunds please visit our Refund policy page

Financial support and scholarships

For general sources of financial support, see our Fees and funding pages.

Additional costs

Please be aware that some courses will involve some additional costs that are not covered by your fees. Specific additional costs for this course are detailed below.

There are some additional costs for the course including the purchase of a lab coat, safety goggles, stationery such as a lab notebook, printing and text books (though the library will have some copies). If the student opts for the placement year then there will be living costs associated with this year but we encourage students to seek a placement with a bursary or a paid placement to mitigate this. Work experience also may also incur travel costs.

Information from Discover Uni

Full-time study

Part-time study

Programme changes:
On rare occasions we may need to make changes to our course programmes after they have been published on the website. For more information, please visit our changes to programmes page.